Before the holiday which dare not speak its name commences, we are visited by one that in some ways has retained its original trappings. Thanksgiving Day, whose celebration predates the formation of the United States government, has somehow managed to survive secular attacks; though the idea of exactly who we are to thank is getting a bit confused.
While President Bush in his Thanksgiving Day proclamation states, "[W]e thank God for His blessings and ask Him to continue to guide and watch over our Nation," the Republican governor of my state of Connecticut, Jodi Rell, proclaimed, "I urge all our citizens to join me in expressing our deepest gratitude to those who touch our lives everyday and in extending a healing hand of hope to those who need it most."
So, as a good and loyal Nutmegger, I will thank a few folks who have touched my life in the past year. But in keeping with the proper religious nature of the holiday, I'll express my gratitude to those who have done so in ways that speak to higher things.
My first bouquet of thanks goes to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Suhrheinrich, who, writing for the majority in the ACLU v. Mercer County -- where a display of the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky courthouse was allowed to remain -- stated what most conservatives have been shouting for years:
The ACLU makes repeated reference to "the separation of church and state." This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.
In anticipation of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and musing on the mess it has made of the 1st Amendment, he went on to deliver the judicial quote of the year: "Thus, we remain in Establishment Clause purgatory." The Wisdom of Solomon it seems, is alive and well, at least in Kentucky.
Although it continues to take some odd political stances, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops scored a bull's-eye earlier this year by fulfilling its most important role, which is to inform the faith of American Catholics. In response to an odious, disingenuous document released by 55 Catholic Democrats -- in which they contended that although their party supports abortion and gay marriage, they are in accord with the Church on issues like the death penalty, immigration, gun control and increasing the minimum wage -- the USCCB released this:
Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.
And while on the subject of the Catholic Church, here's a shout-out to its German shepherd, Pope Benedict XVI. His remarks on the incompatibility of Islam and reason sparked a debate that had heretofore gone unrealized. No less than a French philosophy teacher, Robert Redeker (who remains in hiding for his life), was inspired to write:
In the opening up to others, specific to the West, a secularization of Christianity appears, whose bottom line is summarized as follows: the other person must always pass in front of me. The Westerner, the heir to Christianity, is to be the one to make his soul exposed. He runs the risk of passing himself off as weak.
With the same ardor as Communism, Islam treats generosity, broadmindedness, tolerance, gentleness, freedom of women and of manners, democratic values, as signs of decadence. These are the weaknesses that it seeks to exploit, by means of "useful idiots," those of good consciences imbued with fine sentiments, in order to impose the Koranic order on the Western world itself.
And so we must always give thanks to the guardians of our Western values, those who stand between us and the tyrannies that confront us; our valiant troops serving around the globe. They are truly a gift from God to the nation they serve and living proof that, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
On a personal note, I'd like to add my thanks to God for his many blessings on me this year, which included traveling a bit of our great country by steamboat to see his handiwork up close and meditate on its beauty. And more importantly, after a trip to Calcutta, India, a reaffirmation of the feelings of immense gratitude to him and my grandparents for making me an American.
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